VIP Trip: Zurich
Financial centre, playground for entrepreneurs and movie set – Zurich is the fifth most expensive city in the world for a reason. Situated at the north-western tip of Lake Zurich in central Switzerland, it is the largest city in a small country, and the quality of life here has been rated among the best in the world.
The city’s name originates from the phrase Zu Reich, meaning ‘too rich’, but before you start thinking that it’s simply a boring banking capital, think again. Yes, the city is affluent, fashion-conscious and full of financial giants, but there’s also great architecture and culture to experience.
LIVE THE MOVIE
Were you one of the millions who watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? Last year Zurich was used as a set for an integral scene in the Hollywood blockbuster (spoiler alert; do not read on if you haven’t seen the film). Near the end of the movie, protagonist Lisbeth Salander - played by Rooney Mara - flies to Zurich in disguise to steal millions of dollars from bad guy Hans-Erik Wennerström. You see her wearing a blonde wig, entering several banks, draining the accounts and checking-in to luxe hotel, the Dolder Grand. Lisbeth walks into the hotel’s Masina Suite and removes her disguise, before binning the wig and leaving.
For a cool Dhs37,500 you can check into the Masina Suite for a night and relive the film; if you’re not made of money, standard double rooms cost from Dhs5,000. Alternatively, you can pop in for dinner at the hotel’s prestigious two Michelin-star fine diner, named simply The Restaurant.
TASTE THE CULTURE
The scenery lends itself to a movie panorama, with church steeples rising against a backdrop of mountains looking across the lake – the water is so clean you can drink it. Traditionalists will love walking around the medieval old town, and you can make sightseeing more thrilling by hopping onto a Segway.
The city has 50 museums, from the Money Museum featuring the most famous coins in Europe to the Jacobs Museum, which is dedicated entirely to coffee; plus over 100 art galleries, mountains of shops and a huge ice rink in winter.
Night owls will be kept entertained by the city’s sophisticated offerings.Hundreds of bars, restaurants and clubs have opened since the late Nineties and former industrial area Züri-West gives off a party-vibe not unlike Berlin’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte districts.
The city also hosts plenty of big events throughout the year, including Zurich Festival (15 June to 8 July), Street Party (11 August), Zurich Film Festival (20 to 30 September) and Art International Zurich (12 to 14 October), which are each worth checking out if your visit is timed right.
Flight: About seven hours
Money: Swiss francs; Dhs1 = 0.25 CHF
Language: The official language is German; other languages are French, Italian, English, Romansh
Getting around: The most popular forms of transport are bicycles, buses and, weirdly enough, Segways. But then again, when you live somewhere so beautiful wouldn’t you want to be outside all the time?
Tina Turner, Shakira, Rihanna, James Blunt, Rhys Ifans and Kylie Minogue among many others